I’ve written some posts on the consequences of not getting enough sleep and now it’s time to find out what really works. Newspapers and magazines publish trends and myths everyday so I’ll dig deeper and see what the science says.
But first, a summary on why you need your sleep:
- Sleep deprivation will make you less attractive
- Sleep deprivation may lead to overweight
- Sleep deprivation will make you waste more time
- Your lifestyle will kill you
Lastly I also found a discussion suggesting our ability on critical thinking gets worse when we are sleep depraved. The result of this would be that you perform worse on a test but still believe you got a terrific result.
8 scientific methods to get better sleep
The following methods comes from Bootzin, 2002; King et al., 2001:
- Keep a regular circadian rhythm – Every time you try to catch up lost sleep you push your built in sleeping cycle, making it even more difficult to get back into a healthy sleeping cycle.
- Avoid naps – By taking a nap you’ll make it more difficult to get asleep later in the evening. If you need a regular nap, make sure you take it as early as possible. Preferably around lunchtime.
- Avoid stimulants – For most people it’s a no-brainer to not drink coffee right before bedtime but did you know that both tobacco and chocolate greatly affects your body? It can actually take up to 4-5 hours to halve the amount of coffee in your blood stream.
- Avoid alcohol and sleeping pills – People tend to fall asleep quicker after drinking alcohol but your REM-sleep gets disturbed which will make you more tired when you wake up. Also sleeping pills affect your REM-sleep negatively and can make you addicted or give you insomnia.
- Mediate – Muscle relaxing techniques and meditation has proved to reduce tension and remove worrying thoughts which is one of the most common reason to why people can’t get a sleep. If you’re not into meditation I gave another solution the other day.
- Avoid exercise – Well, exercise during the day is great and will make you fall asleep quicker but exercise late in the evening might be contra productive and stimulate your body to become more alert.
- Associate your beed with sleep – Just like everything else in your life, and heroine addicted soldiers in Vietnam, your body are heavily affected by association. This is why you shouldn’t work, watch movies, eat or do anything else in bed. Your beed should only be for sleep and sex.
- Don’t use your computer before bedtime – Once again we don’t want the body to become alert. Therefore it’s extremely important that you avoid both computers and watching TV right before bedtime.
As a kid, I used to try and count to 1000 but as I grew older I managed to count while I was thinking on everything else. My solution today is instead a kind of meditation where I avoid all thinking and just focus on my breathing. It’s a bit difficult in the beginning but works perfectly when you learn how to do it.